R Subhash Reddy, Ashok bhushan, MR shah
R Subhash Reddy, Ashok bhushan, MR shah
Litigation News

Supreme Court to hear challenge to NLAT filed by former NLSIU Vice-Chancellor Prof Venkata Rao tomorrow

The matter will be heard by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court will hear tomorrow the petition filed by former Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Bangalore, Prof Venkata Rao, challenging the decision to hold the National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT).

NLSIU's move to conduct a separate law entrance exam this year, the NLAT, owing to the delayed conduct of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT 2020) is under challenge in this petition.

The matter will be heard by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.

The petition filed by Advocate Sughosh Subramanyam and Advocate-on-Record Vipin Nair on behalf of Prof Rao and an aggrieved parent, claims that the decision of the present Vice-Chancellor Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy to conduct a separate test would convert NLSIU from being ‘an island of excellence’ to ‘an island of exclusion’.

The four major points highlighted in the petition are that :

  1. The present NLSIU Vice-Chancellor did not have requisite consent from the academic council for conducting a separate examination;

  2. The reasons for conducting a separate test are whimsical and baseless;

  3. The technical requirement of having a laptop and 1 Mbps of internet speed for taking home proctored examination, is onerous, arbitrary, discriminatory and illegal;

  4. That the legitimate expectations of the students stand breached.

The Supreme Court has been urged to quash the September 3 notification announcing the conduct of NLAT for NLSIU admissions this year. Another prayer made is for quashing of NLSIU's notification regarding the technical requirements to write NLAT and for a direction to NLSIU to accept students this year on the basis of CLAT scores.

The petitioners in this plea state that the NLSIU did not have any powers to develop an alternative admissions process (i.e. the NLAT). The Executive meeting in which it is stated that NLSIU was authorised to develop such an alternative proceess itself is illegal and without basis under its by laws.

The decision by NLSIU to conduct its own entrance exam was unilateral and taken in haste, the petition further says. The notification issued to this effect had also intimated that NLSIU would not accept CLAT scores for admissions to its law programs this year.

Moreover it also said that the online application process for NLAT was due to be closed on September 10 whereas the process began only on September 3 giving aspirants a small window of seven days only.

The petition also raises a grave concern and says that the technical requirements prescribed for the students to write the exam pose an undue burden on aspiring students. The examination is stipulated to be conducted online, through artificial intelligence-based and human proctoring, which requires constant streaming of audio and video data throughout the duration of the examination.

The petitioners say that an onerous and unreasonable obligation has been upon aspiring students by requiring them to arrange for their own laptops, and in complete variance with the mode of the CLAT 2020 examination.

NLSIU's move was also challenged before the Jharkhand High Court where the Court reseved its orders today whilst observing that the issue in essence has a pan-India effect and asked how the Kharkhand High Court can adjudicate on it.

A separate petition by a CLAT aspirant has also been filed before the Madhya Pradesh High Court where it is submitted that the petitioner is aggrieved by the decision of NLSIU and also averred that this decision is "illegal, arbitrary and whimsical".

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